Feb. 20, 2009

This morning there was a big fat cockroach about an inch long lying on its back by the stove. I grabbed a broom. Hardly outside, right side up again, it scurried away. Ugh! We actually haven’t had much in the way of creepy crawlies until now.

This crop is no comparison to the scrawny one we saw a year ago. The leader is a proud man, with right. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

This crop is no comparison to the scrawny one we saw a year ago. The leader is a proud man, with right. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

We spent a great day in Mpongwe on Wednesday. The farm co-operative there received a loan of $5,000 Cdn for fertilizer and good corn seed more than a year ago. They planted 11 fields with that. Mostly church groups planted two and a half to three acres.

Last June they harvested and most of them made quite a good profit, after repaying the loan with six percent interest. This year they have planted again and we did a field tour. We visited four of the 13 fields (it started to rain heavily), but were encouraged by what we saw and heard.

The fields all look promising. One belongs to a group that has just joined this year. A woman chairs this group, and women showed us to the field. They are proud of what they are doing and eager to learn.

Zambia is a beautiful country this time of year. It looks almost uninhabited, but should you stop, you would soon have a crowd gathered around you! (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Zambia is a beautiful country this time of year. It looks almost uninhabited, but should you stop, you would soon have a crowd gathered around you! (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Shingwa district had the poorest field last year, with scrawny plants. Their leader was excited to show us a flourishing crop. Beside it was his thriving personal plot.

Pastor Jessy kept telling us how important the field tours and subsequent meetings with the farmers were last year. The farmers are applying what they learned. He insists there is less hunger in the district this year because of what we taught them, but I think that is due more to the good rains they had.

One of the most important lessons they learned was to share knowledge, Pastor Jessy said. Previously no one would ask someone to come and look at his field if he had problems. He would feel embarrassed about it. To be part of changing mindsets that make people move forward is the biggest reward for us.

We walked long paths under the African sun to the fields. Here the women are escorting us back to the truck. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

We walked long paths under the African sun to the fields. Here the women are escorting us back to the truck. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

We’re planning to spend several days in Mpongwe soon. We will tour the rest of the fields and meet with the co-operative members to discuss issues of importance to them. Some topics will be crop rotation — not just corn, their staple food — and financial planning; thinking ahead and making budgets.

We gave Kaputa half the money he asked for, probably more for our conscience than because we felt it was the right thing to do, or because of his kids. Call it social assistance.

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